21 January, 2006

Million Dollar Home Runs

Meanwhile, back in Florida...

Officials from the Washington Nationals met with representatives of free agent slugger Sammy Sosa on Thursday night, the latest step in the club's pursuit of the former all-star who is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career.

Where please is the logic?

What does Sammy Sosa bring to the Nationals?

Sosa is coming off a miserable year with the Baltimore Orioles, when he earned $18 million but hit .221 with 14 home runs and 45 RBI in 102 games.

A mil plus per round tripper.

Interestingly, Sosa had just 4 HRs in supposedly homer friendly Camden Yards (OPACY's HR index for '05 was 101 and is 105 for the last few years). RFK meanwhile had a HR index of 85 - in the bottom third of the league. Sammy would also be playing quite a few games in Miami (78), Hot-lanta (84) and the Big Shea (90). He might struggle to top 14 homers, might have to leg out a few more doubles or Guillen-like pop a lot of warning track outs.

The Bill James Handbook projects (on the basis of 2005 park effects, remember) Sosa in 2006 thus: .265/.355/.521 27HR, 71RC. If Sosa could come near to that projection, then a Minor League incentive laden deal with a Spring Training invitation could be good value.

But, that projection might be a tad optimistic for an injury prone 37 year old playing in a power hitters graveyard. Sosa also carries the baggage of a over dominant and disruptive clubhouse influence. Could be a bad rap, but sure as hell the Nats don't need another overblown ego. Imagine an outfield of Alf "I won't play the outfield" Soriano, Jose "I keel you" Guillen and Sammy "boombox" Sosa. "They looking to set the record for most triples given up in a season?"

On the other hand:

Sosa is fifth on the all-time home run list with 588, two ahead of Nationals Manager Frank Robinson. He also has 2,194 career strikeouts, second all-time behind only Reggie Jackson.

If (and it's a big if), Sosa is healthy and parks the ego for a year, it could pull in some fans in what otherwise promises to be - now that the honeymoon is over - a tough sophomore season.

To the Nats: Noooooooooooooooooooooo!
What happened to the idea of "We need pitching..."? Sentimental signings are not what the club needs at this point. Why not sign Hondo?

To Sammy: ok, you'll make the Hall, but please retire. Now! (Well, you can play in the World Baseball Classic, strike out 10 times in 3 games, get hurt, then retire.)

Banks of the Anacostia has a blow-by-blow account of the negotations, rumours and hubris.

...and, not once did I mention 'roids...


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